Mana Pools - advice needed





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  1. #1
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    Default Mana Pools - advice needed

    Hi everyone.


    My name is Jessica and my husband and I are avid bush people. We have traversed Botswana many times - Moremi, Mabuasehube etc. and now believe its time for our dream destination - Mana Pools. I have read through many of the trip reports (thanks especially to Stan) but still have some queries



    • We are a large group of 10-12 people with 5 vehicles. We are wanting to stay at Chitake and Mucheni. Am I able to book more than one site so we can split ourselves over the two? Or can I book two sites but we all choose to stay on one? I believe the exclusive camp restrictions is 3 vehicles and 12 people?
    • Specifically for Mucheni- are sites 2 and 3 nearby each other?
    • Is Chitake or Mucheni closer to stay as our first camp (coming from Gweru?)
    • are generators allowed to be used in the park?
    • We are planning to visit early August- is this a good time?

    Thanks so much


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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Mana Pools - advice needed

    Hi Jessica, may you guys have a great 2019, you have a great trip on the cards if you have not commenced with bookings then I suggest you contacr Zimparks and get the ball rolling soonest.

    • The Mucheni and Chitake sites are my prefered camping sites, I would suggest that you stay at Chitake first and then Mucheni.
    • The other exclusive sites that I like are:
      • Gwaya (has a resident leopard) which is large and will handle your crowd. There was also a running water tap there and they were working on bush ablutions. This would be my choice for a site on the Zambesi for the size of your group.
      • BBC
      • Nyamepi riverfront sites, well at least those that are furthest away (East) from the Parks offices and staff accomodation.

    • You need to check in at the Morongora headquarters (some 15kms north of Morongora on the main Harare Chirundu road) to collect a access permit, before going into Mana. Then you turn right into Mama and you will immediately reach a gate (no fruit beyond this point). some 45kms further you get to a second gate where you go right to Chitake and left to Nyamepi and the other riverfront exclusive camp sites.
    • If you do Chitake first then you book in at this gate and pay in cash or bond notes. If not then you go straight to Nyamepi to book and pay whatever - including firewood.
    • Please note that IMHO at Chitake there is really only one choice and that is Chitake No 1. The campsites at Chitake are smallish but you could possibly fit.
    • Mucheni does have 4 sites one is a semi permanent operators site. Anyone of the others (1, 2 & 3) will be fine. they are close to each other but not walking distance. The sites are large enough and should handle your crowd.
    • The Zimparks rules apply and they state that you are allowed to have 6 persons on a site that are included in the cost of the exclusive site IIRC $172 (not sure what it is currently - but this applied to us last year at Deteema and Masuma in Hwange). But remember that you are allowed to have up to 12 people on the site you do however need to pay the walkin rates for the difference i.e. 6 people,which I suggest you do this when you arrive.
    • Allowed who cares!!!! Please don't take generators to Mana the noise pollution will interfere with your "wild" experience. If there are other campers at any of the surrounding sites (which are relatively far apart) the humming sound will be an issue.
    • August = my favourite time of the year.



    I attach two maps of the areas FYI, I know there are more up to date ones on the forum.

    For how long do you plan to be in Mana? What does your whole schedule look like?
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by TRON; 2019/01/02 at 04:49 PM.

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  5. #3
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    Default Re: Mana Pools - advice needed

    I think you will struggle to get 5 vehicles on Chitake 1. Access is rather limited, so it needs to be 1st in and last out, so if you are there for a couple of days going out for a drive would be an issue. It also depends on whether you are using RTT's, ground tents or trailers. You can get some idea of how close to each other we were parked, there was an Imagine trailvan with us on the site too.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by mcowell; 2019/01/02 at 05:38 PM.
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  7. #4
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    Default Re: Mana Pools - advice needed

    Only 2 vehicles at a campsite in Mana; This is a copy from the Zimparks site;

    Exclusive Campsite
    There are a number of exclusive campsites situated along the Zambezi River. These camps are for the visitor who seeks solitude and who wants to truly experience the wildness and challenges of the bush. There is a braai stand at each site and rudimentary toilet. Water is collected from the river or the reception office. Visitors to these sites need to be fully self-equipped and be able to handle the remoteness and solitude of these unique camps. The camps are only allowed 2 vehicles and 12 persons per stay. Water may be drawn from the river.

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    Default Re: Mana Pools - advice needed

    On the same website is another statement wich is different; Camping and picnic fees are charged per site unless otherwise specified. All ordinary sites take a maximum of 6 people and 2 vehicles, Exclusive and undeveloped sites maximum of 12 people and 3 vehicles.

  9. #6
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    Default Re: Mana Pools - advice needed

    Jessica for further input maybe you can expand on your camping setup. Forum member would then be in a better position to assist with suggestions.

  10. #7
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    Default Re: Mana Pools - advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by TRON View Post
    Jessica for further input maybe you can expand on your camping setup. Forum member would then be in a better position to assist with suggestions.
    Thank you all so much for the valuable input.
    We are looking at August 2020, so I imagine bookings wont be open yet. I know we are planning well in advance, but I know how difficult it is to get into these campsites.

    This is my proposed route, please comment:
    Durban Martins Drift border Day 1 (overnight Stevensford)
    Martins Drift border Gweru Day 2 (overnight Antelope Park)
    Gweru Chitake 1 (4 nights)
    Chitake Mucheni 2 and 3 (7 nights)
    Return home

    To answer some of your questions:

    Tron I havent heard much about the Gwaya site. How does it compare to Mucheni? Also I dont believe we will be allowed to park all our cars there, so may have to look at booking Mucheni 2 and 3?

    Sylvia I also read the conflicting advice regarding the 2 or 3 vehicles.

    We are happy to book both Chitake 1 and 2 and then park some of the cars on site 2 but all camp on site 1. Would that be doable? Our setup would be three trailers and two 4x4 caravans.

    One more question regarding guides in Chitake. If you only want to use a guide for the day, where do you collect them/drop them off? If it is Nyamepi, how far would this be?

    Thanks again

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    Default Re: Mana Pools - advice needed

    Our stay at Chitake was scary, I cant recall which site it was though.

    It was end November boiling hot and there was fresh lion tracks when we arrived and 30 minutes before sunset 2 female lions walked past with intent on the opposite side of the river - 50m away. The scary bit is when you realize that they probably weren't that far away for most of the day and that we lost sight of them again only 200m further on. We also had elephant walking past in the river bed. The whole night there was lots of elephant trumpeting and general bush noises.

    That night we also forgot to put the conquerors stabilizer legs down and our trailer tipped backwards and we had 2 kids with us. clinging to a toppled trailer thinking something bumped it is no fun.

    We could not find armed guards and we were not prepared to walk to the spring on our own.

    It was wild and an experience but not one I would repeat soon. I definitely prefer the wide open spaces under the trees in Nyamepi

    If you are older/ younger without dependents its a wonderful experience.
    Last edited by pfgrobler; 2019/01/03 at 02:22 PM.

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  13. #9
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    Default Re: Mana Pools - advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by JessiAnn View Post
    Thank you all so much for the valuable input.
    We are looking at August 2020, so I imagine bookings won’t be open yet. I know we are planning well in advance, but I know how difficult it is to get into these campsites.

    €‹€‹OK you have lots of time. Bookings normally open in begining of Sept for Aug of the following year.

    This is my proposed route, please comment:
    Durban – Martins Drift border Day 1 (overnight Stevensford)
    Martins Drift border – Gweru Day 2 (overnight Antelope Park)
    Gweru – Chitake 1 (4 nights)
    Chitake – Mucheni 2 and 3 (7 nights)
    Return home

    To answer some of your questions:

    Tron – I haven’t heard much about the Gwaya site. How does it compare to Mucheni? Also I don’t believe we will be allowed to park all our cars there, so may have to look at booking Mucheni 2 and 3? €‹€‹ I prefer Mucheni as the views are slightly (not that it is bad at Gwaya) better. We moved from there to Mucheni 2. But I would say that you would get all your vehicles on the site. It seems as if it was constructed for a specific purpose (for school groups/photographic teams) as it did have facilities such as running water, a dilapidated not working ablution with showers and toilet. There was evidence that work was being done on restoring the facilities, maybe someone else on the forum has an update on this. This did not affect our stay at all as we were fully self sufficient.


    ‹Another plus for Gwaya would be that there or no other camp sites close by and it is more remote.

    Sylvia – I also read the conflicting advice regarding the 2 or 3 vehicles. €,€‹I have never had a problem with Zimparks regarding the number of vehicles (up to 5 with trailers on one occassion) they need the funds! You could also check with the Zimparks officials when you do your bookings.

    We are happy to book both Chitake 1 and 2 and then park some of the cars on site 2 but all camp on site 1. Would that be doable? Our setup would be three trailers and two 4x4 caravans. €‹€‹This would solve your problem. With jiggling and juggling you should be OK. t

    One more question – regarding guides in Chitake. If you only want to use a guide for the day, where do you collect them/drop them off? If it is Nyamepi, how far would this be? €‹€‹yes it is at Nymepi which is some 50kms away on a not too bad road. 1000% better than the entrance road, from the main Harare-Chirundu tar road, which is crazy with corrugations and rocks. I would suggest that when you book in at the Chitake satelite office (at a gate where you turn right, left goes to Nyamepi) enquire if they can supply you with a guide. In the past they have done this.

    Have you considered hiring a professional Zimbo (who is well versed in Chitake and its tricks) for your stay at Chitake. There was a thread in the past on this which detailed this and gave the Guide that they used contact details. The benefit of this is that he stays with you the whole time and can really add value to your experience, also his costs can be shared amongst you group.


    Thanks again
    See above comments
    Last edited by TRON; 2019/01/04 at 01:35 PM.

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  15. #10
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    Default Re: Mana Pools - advice needed

    https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...55#post2953255

    Hope this gives additional colour to Chitake - not that it needs it.

  16. #11
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    Default Re: Mana Pools - advice needed

    https://www.google.co.za/url?sa=t&rc..._sWCveKbfThZm8

    Hi JessiAnn, seems this is what has happened at Gwaya. A new Zimparks tented camp.

    So go for Mucheni No 3 will be a good base (there is ample space) and overflow at No 2, to abide by booking numbers..

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    Default Re: Mana Pools - advice needed

    Hello JessiAnn, I am doing Mana in September 2019. I have done Mana a few times but one thing that I have found in the past is that they are pretty strict on the amount of people staying on a site especially on the Chitake side. I wanted to split 10 people with 5 vehicles on site 1 and then the rest on 2 and 3. 2 and 3 are very close together where as site 1 is about 800m - 1km away. As 2 and 3 had already been booked by an agent I requested special permission, in writing, to have all on site 1. This was denied by the head honcho at Zimparks. Muncheni has 3 beautiful sites but are split up a bit but that's your best bet after Chitake. Seeing everything else was booked, I ended up booking 2 sites at Nyamepi on the water front. These are still very stunning sites. Hope you enjoy your trip. Cheers
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    Default Re: Mana Pools - advice needed

    Hi All

    We are to Mana pools in July this year. We have booked. We are a party of 16. We hear that the overall situation in Zimbabwe is deteriorating by the day, money, fuel and food availability. Whilst the foregoing may not affect us seriously we are concerned what the security situation is like. Does any one have information regarding the security situation? Thanks.

  19. #14
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    Default Re: Mana Pools - advice needed

    Hi there

    We're also travelling to Mana Pools June/July this year (2 adults, 2 children, 1 vehicle), and we're also concerned about security, fuel etc. We'd also value any input from anyone who has travelled in Zim recently (since the riots).

    We are considering travelling through Bots, into Zambia and coming into Mana Pools via the Chirundu border post - has anyone done this route recently?

    Thanks
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  21. #15
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    Default Re: Mana Pools - advice needed

    Hi
    what are conservation and vehicle fees in Mana?



    Quote Originally Posted by mcowell View Post
    I think you will struggle to get 5 vehicles on Chitake 1. Access is rather limited, so it needs to be 1st in and last out, so if you are there for a couple of days going out for a drive would be an issue. It also depends on whether you are using RTT's, ground tents or trailers. You can get some idea of how close to each other we were parked, there was an Imagine trailvan with us on the site too.

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    Default Re: Mana Pools - advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Glacier View Post
    Hi
    what are conservation and vehicle fees in Mana?
    I am battling to reconcile the invoice.
    Basic charge is $230/day at Chitake, on which we got a SADC 40% discount, (I am not sure if this discount still applies)
    $172/day at Mucheni, on which we also got the discount, total time was 7days.
    The website gives Mana conservation at $15/p/d but it does not seem we paid that much.
    Vehicle and caravan fees are each $10 for 5 days.
    Sorry, can't be more helpful.
    Last edited by mcowell; 2019/05/24 at 08:26 AM.
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    Default Re: Mana Pools - advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by mcowell View Post
    I am battling to reconcile the invoice.
    Basic charge is $230/day at Chitake, on which we got a SADC 40% discount, (I am not sure if this discount still applies)
    $172/day at Mucheni, on which we also got the discount, total time was 7days.
    The website gives Mana conservation at $15/p/d but it does not seem we paid that much.
    Vehicle and caravan fees are each $10 for 5 days.
    Sorry, can't be more helpful.
    We will be at Chitake in June and below is part of an email I received yesterday from Zimparks. As an aside, all my communication with them via email has been efficient.


    SADC rates
    accommodated dayvisitor

    hawnge $8 $15
    chizarira $3 $8
    manapools $15 $15






    The 40% discount no longer applies but 7 days gets you a 10% discount.

    Enjoy your planning
    Last edited by Just Go; 2019/05/24 at 10:18 PM.
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  24. #18
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    Default Re: Mana Pools - advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by mcowell View Post
    I am battling to reconcile the invoice.
    Basic charge is $230/day at Chitake, on which we got a SADC 40% discount, (I am not sure if this discount still applies)
    $172/day at Mucheni, on which we also got the discount, total time was 7days.
    The website gives Mana conservation at $15/p/d but it does not seem we paid that much.
    Vehicle and caravan fees are each $10 for 5 days.
    Sorry, can't be more helpful.
    When was this booking done - that you got the SADC discount?

  25. #19
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    Default Re: Mana Pools - advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by TRON View Post
    When was this booking done - that you got the SADC discount?

    Booked April 2019. Unfortunately Chitake 1 was taken and we have Chitake 2, New Ndungu and Nyamepi. Its still Mana Pools so we not too fussed about where we are.
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    Default Re: Mana Pools - advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by TRON View Post
    When was this booking done - that you got the SADC discount?
    We were there September last year, so the booking was probably done in Oct 2017. Due to Zimparks inefficiency, they did not process the 2nd booking, I did not get the discount on our stay in Hwange later in the month, as it had been withdrawn by then. The one in seven days discount was available a few years ago and then fell away, at least that is back again.
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